The Islanders have not had a good start to the 2016-2017 season, having a record of 5-8-3, and are currently in last place in the Metropolitan division with just 13 points. In their last two seasons, they had solid regular seasons, having at least 45 wins in each, and racking up 100 points or more in each season.
The 2015-2016 season was a major step forward for the New York Islanders as a franchise. Not only did they make it to the playoffs, they finally won a playoff series for the first time since the the 1993-1994 season. After a tough move for fans as the team relocated from Long Island to Brooklyn, fans were relieved and excited when John Tavares scored a game winning overtime goal in game 6 of the first round over the Florida Panthers, sending them on a second round matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning owned the Islanders, winning the series 4 games to 1, but fans were excited that the team had finally won a playoff series. Overall, I considered that season a success.
So far, this season has been brutal. The team is blowing leads, and losing constantly at home. In the second season at Barclays Center, it still does not feel like home. It doesn’t help that the Islanders lost 3 of their key players this offseason: Frans Nielson, Kyle Okposo, and Matt Martin in free agency. These 3 were established NHL hockey players, and fit well with the Islanders as great leaders. Martin could change the tempo of the game with a big hit, or hustle down ice to gain puck possession. Nielson was a great defensive forward, and scored plenty of goals for the Islanders. Okposo was another great goal scorer.
Going into this season, I was skeptical of how the team would do because of the loss of these 3 key players, but I did have hope that Brock Nelson, Anders Lee, and Ryan Strome would finally be a great supporting cast for John Tavares. Nelson has been solid with 11 points, but Strome has been a disappointment with 5 points, and Anders Lee only 2. The team acquired Andrew Ladd, a solid, well established NHL player, but he has just 3 points. This is not enough to help John Tavares, who leads the team in many offensive categories.
The team needs to make a move quickly. They need a solid veteran, with a lot of offensive skill. They have no go-to guys other than John Tavares and maybe Cal Clutterbuck. I actually am very pleased with the way the defensemen have been playing, and the goaltending is giving them chances to win. They are clearly very weak at the forward position, and they do not have goal scorers. They better find help quick, or Islanders fans are going to see another year of disappointment. We hoped the team could take it to the next step, but so far they have done just the opposite, being in last place. The season is still early, but I am very worried about this team. If they do not make progress this season, I fear they may lose John Tavares when he becomes a free agent. The team needs to start winning games, or we’re in for another forgotten Islanders season.
Stats and standings via ESPN